Oregon marijuana businesses face tougher penalties for selling to minors

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The agency that regulates Oregon’s marijuana market has passed new rules that include heavier penalties for cannabis retailers and employees who sell product to minors.

Effective immediately, first-time offenders will face 30-day license suspensions or a $4,950 fine, the Portland Business Journal reported.

The new fine is triple the previous amount for the same offense and triple what alcohol retailers face if they sell to minors.

Penalties will increase with subsequent violations, while workers who sell to minors could lose their state industry work permits.

The Oregon Liquor Control Commission, which oversees the state’s marijuana program, said the tougher penalties were in response to the low rates of compliance with state rules, according to the Business Journal.

The commission conducted six stings in December that found that 21% of businesses sold to underage customers.

That’s higher than the 77.8% compliance rate the OLCC found in six recent decoy operations designed to detect illegal alcohol sales to minors, the Business Journal reported.

Because marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug under federal law, cannabis businesses must be held to a higher standard than their counterparts in the alcohol sector, a commission spokesman told the publication.

The new penalties will be in effect for six months, after which the commission will consider whether to extend them.

That decision will depend, at least in part, on how well marijuana businesses comply with the rules forbidding sales to minors.